Loss of consciousness accompanied by difficulty breathing, pulse loss, chest discomfort, palpitations, weakness, and a collapse are common symptoms of a sudden cardiac arrest. It occurs due to a problem with the heart's electrical system, leading to a disruption in the pumping function. The inability to pump leads to a stoppage in blood flow and, if not treated immediately, can result in sudden cardiac death (SCD). However, quick, and appropriate medical intervention can increase the chances of survival from SCA and prevent SCD.
Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) is a condition where the heart stops beating abruptly causing a sudden stoppage of blood flow in the body. Due to which the patient may often experience unconsciousness if the brain does not receive blood for up to three seconds. Irreversible damage can also be caused if it goes on for 2 minutes or more. It could also result in death of the patient if the heart is not restarted through emergency protocols. This is why immediate medical assistance should be provided for higher chances of survival. People often use SCA and heart attack synonymously. Lack of proper knowledge makes the public ignore the symptoms and prevent heart disease risk.
How to manage SCA?
Until proper medical assistance arrives, Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) can be used as an emergency action to manage SCA. This process involves chest compression that help in recovery of blood supply and breathing. CPR helps in providing adequate oxygen to the brain, thus, tackling arrhythmia (abnormal heartbeat) by restoring the normal pulse of 100-120 bpm.
Any kind of medical assistance within a few minutes may save the life of the patient. Rush the patient to the hospital immediately in such a situation.
Here's what you should do
- It is advisable to go for regular heart screening and maintain a healthy life
- Maintaining a proper diet and regular exercise reduces the chances of SCA
- It is essential to take extra care of the body even more if you have diseases like diabetes, blood pressure, or other medical conditions that increase heart disease risk
- Be cautious of indirect risk factors like alcohol and smoking that indirectly contribute to lack of sleep and weight gain
Ideally, a sudden cardiac arrest does not always result in the death of the person. Fainting or losing consciousness can make the bystander anxious, but timely treatment and fast response in the situation prevents things from getting dangerous.
Depending on the patient's condition, there are various methodologies used for treating SCA. The most common one is done using an implantable cardioverter-defibrillation (ICDs), which is a small device implanted in the chest that helps monitor and detect irregular heartbeats, which is then countered using electric shocks.
(Dr Chirayu Vyas is a Cardiac Electrophysiologist and Interventional Cardiologist at Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Institute of Medical Sciences and Research, Ahmedabad)
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